International students bring considerably more money into the Dutch economy than they cost it, according to a study by central planning office CPB. Foreign students from non-European Union countries in particular generate a lot of money for the Dutch treasury, NU.nl reports.

According to the CPB, a foreign student from outside the European Union costs the Netherlands about 160 thousand euros, but generates 250 thousand euros for the Dutch treasury. That amounts to a net contribution of some 96 thousand euros per student. Students from other EU member sates generate around 16,900 euros each for the Dutch economy.

International students contribute to the Dutch economy because many stay in the Netherlands and work here after they’ve graduated. Their benefit to the Netherlands is therefore only reflected after their studies are complete. Five years after graduation, 29 percent of non-EU HBO students and 31 percent of non-EU WO students still lived and worked in the Netherlands. Among students from other EU countries, it was 10 and 15 percent respectively.

In the previous academic year a total of 85,955 foreign students were registered with Dutch universities and colleges. That is 11.5 percent of the total number of students in the Netherlands. In 2006, there were 31 thousand foreign students in the Netherlands. 

The internationalization of education has been a point of debate in the Netherlands for years. Student organizations and other opponents complain that the influx of international students lead to some courses having to limit the number of students they take in, which could result in Dutch students being rejected. Internationalization also puts the Dutch language under pressure at universities as more and more courses are given in English, according to student unions. Opponents also say that foreign students is putting pressure on the housing market.

National student union LSVb expressed similar complaints to the Volkskrant after the CPB report. According to the LSVb, the CPB is too focussed on economic benefits and not on the substantive advantages and disadvantages of internationalization. The accessibility and quality of courses may deteriorate, partly due to the fat that courses are increasingly offered in English, the union said. 

The association of Dutch universities VSNU is largely in favor of internationalization, because it is positive for education, for the international position of the Netherlands and for scientific research, spokesperson Bart Pierik said to NU.nl. But the VSNU thinks that more can be done to steer it in the right direction. “We would only want to steer it more, and we are not necessarily striving for large and sustained growth.”

The VSNU would also like to see more done to make sure foreign students stay in the Netherlands after completing their studies. This is not only good for the treasury, but can also alleviate shortages on certain parts of the labor market, according to the association. “The ‘stay chance’ must be increased”, Pierik said. Universities and colleges try to encourage this by offering Dutch language courses, for example. “This way, students have a greater chance of a side job, but also of meeting someone in a cafe.”


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